From Lemons to Lennon – food and beyond

I have been nursing an idea for a few months now.  I share it with friends, trot it out in its latest form at parties, and hone it during long car rides with my husband.  I have received every hue and flavor of feedback from the friends and strangers who have been subjected to this fantasy, but mostly polite disinterest and a changing of the subject has been the response.  My husband’s reaction, of course, doesn’t count, as he is such a stalwart supporter of all my more-enthusiasm-than-sense ideas.  Anything else would have been noteworthy and thus mete fodder for a good read, but alas, from him I receive a listening ear and a big thumbs up before he descends into the mancave to sharpen his chisels.

Meanwhile, a decision needed to be made: which CSA do we join for next summer?  We used Veritas Farm last year and the people, the food, the price, the value, and all the arrangements were wonderful.  But we drive through at least three townships, past uncounted farms, over a ridge, and across a river to buy local food.  It just doesn’t feel right.  We are burning time (35 minutes each way) and fossil fuel to collect our organic veggies.  There has to be a closer option, I decided.

At our monthly Winter Sun food pick up and farmer’s market, I wandered over to the CSA brochure-strewn table and asked the women there.  They represented a number of CSAs on the New Paltz side of the ridge; it is amazing and wonderful to discover that there are so many choices in the New Paltz-Gardiner area.  The ladies directed me to Ken (of the Hudson Valley Seed Library), selling seeds a few tables down, who they said would know what was happening west of the Gunks.  Ken offered several names with recommendations; I called the one that sounded most promising.  I’d seen her farmstand on my way home from work last summer.  I’d like to think that I could ride my bike to the farm (a ten minute car ride on mountainous dirt roads – it’d be a helluva ride home laden with potatoes and eggs).

I reached to Linda, the farmer, on a Saturday afternoon, and we chatted.  Business addressed (she’s sending a brochure in the mail), we touched on other subjects: hiking (of course), our children’s relative ages (and the possibility of mine babysitting for hers), the time-consuming nature of picking cherry tomatoes, the delicate balance in running a business between being accommodating and driving yourself crazy, and the sublime experience of fresh challah seasoned with zatar.  Linda talked about her goal: she wants to make her farmstand/CSA pick-up on Saturday mornings a focal point for people’s weeks.  She mentioned having a chef-friend doing tastings and demos, a woman from up the hill selling wild blueberries, and her hope that someone would fill the need for bread and pastries.  She talked about wanting to provide and participate in something that feeds people: socially, economically, nutritionally, and perhaps in other ways that are best left undefined but deeply felt.

So I had to tell her.  It just felt safe, like it was worth the risk.  It felt in keeping with all we had agreed upon in our ten-minute-old relationship.  I revealed my goal: that one day I launch a greenhouse-based growing operation, here in the Hudson Valley, growing lemons.  Local, Hudson Valley lemons.  I left out all the details – the photo voltaic solar panels for electricity, geothermal heat, programs for returning veterans in horticulture or small business management.  All of that ceased to matter because she just said yes.  Yes.  “That’s right,” she agreed.  “Great idea!  How about mangoes and avocadoes too?”

Wasn’t “yes” the word that caused John Lennon to fall in love with Yoko Ono?  I can’t wait ‘til summer.

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